VIDEO True Strength

. . . ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” — Zechariah 4:6

Some people have made the gym their second home. These people go to fanatical lengths to get their bodies in shape. I’m not devaluing caring for our bodies; in fact, I get my share of exercise. But some people make an idol of physical strength, cultivating beautiful bodies to glorify themselves.

But which one of these persons do you think is better equipped to help others: a person who works out with weights all day, developing huge muscles, or a person who is poor, weak, frail, and unmuscular? The answer isn’t all that clear. A strong person may be more capable of helping people; for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger may be more physically capable of helping others than frail and tiny Mother Teresa. But it does not follow logically that he has acted to help more people than she. In fact, she has had an immeasurable impact on many people’s lives.

Many of the world’s greatest people haven’t been strong, muscular, or even healthy. Nor have they had great wealth. But they have had to struggle with monumental problems, and through their struggles, they’ve learned to rely on the Holy Spirit for strength. Jesus tells us that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Nowhere do the Scriptures say that the spoils go to the strong, to the cunning, or to the wealthy. In fact, they often say the opposite. Paul makes a similar point: “When I am weak, then I am strong” and “God has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the strong.” Why is that? When we rely on our own strength, then we get the credit and the glory. But when we are weak and helpless, we rely on God to work through us, and the results glorify Him.

Acknowledge your weakness today, give up your efforts to succeed on your own, and allow the Holy Spirit to use you. As you do, you’ll experience true strength—God’s strength working through you.

““Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.””

St. Francis De Sales

Not by Might – Zechariah 4:6

Brother Saul

Placing his hands on Saul, [Ananias] said, “Brother Saul, the Lord . . . has sent me.” Acts 9:17

“Lord, please send me anywhere but there.” That was my prayer as a teenager before embarking on a year as a foreign exchange student. I didn’t know where I would be going, but I knew where I didn’t want to go. I didn’t speak that country’s language, and my mind was filled with prejudices against its customs and people. So I asked God to send me elsewhere.  

But God in His infinite wisdom sent me precisely where I asked not to go. I’m so glad He did! Forty years later, I still have dear friends in that land. When I got married, my best man Stefan came from there. When he got married, I flew there to return the favor. And we’re planning another visit soon.

Beautiful things happen when God causes a change of heart! Such a transformation is illustrated by just two words: “Brother Saul” (Acts 9:17).

Those words were from Ananias, a believer God called to heal Saul’s sight immediately after his conversion (vv. 10–12). Ananias resisted at first because of Saul’s violent past, praying: “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people” (v. 13).

But Ananias was obedient and went. And because he had a change of heart, Ananias gained a new brother in faith, Saul became known as Paul, and the good news of Jesus spread with power. True change is always possible through Him!

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

How have you sensed God calling you to have a change of heart? How can you encourage a new believer today?

Jesus, thank You for changing my heart with Your love. Help me to extend it to others.

Sunday Reflection: Welcome the Spirit

How will you connect with God today?

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

Imagine that your friends invite you over for dinner one evening. But when you arrive, you find they haven’t set a place for you at the table. It can make for an awkward, disorienting situation. In a way, that’s what it’s like when we say we want to be closer to God but don’t take any steps toward welcoming Him into our daily life.

The good news is that acting on our intentions doesn’t require us to dive into theological study or travel the world in God’s service. Simple spiritual practices—embraced by centuries of believers—are enough to help us experience a richer life in Christ: worship, prayer, meditating on Scripture, and fasting from certain foods or beverages. Integrating each of these things, even if practiced in only brief or small ways, makes space for the Holy Spirit to work in us.

Remember, you’re not responsible for the transformation any more than a farmer is responsible for the sun and rain (John 15:5). Your job, like the soil’s, is to remain ready to receive.

Divine Power, Divine Nature

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Certain passages of Scripture simply take one’s breath away. Our text for today is just such a passage. To those He has called, God has promised “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” He has provided all that we need to live godly and productive lives. It is “his divine power” (emphatic in the Greek text), imparted to us in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, that makes this possible.

In order to properly utilize our resources, we must continue to grow in “the [full] knowledge of him.” Only then can we attain any measure of His “glory and virtue.” He has empowered us to reflect His glorious character and virtuous acts as we know who He is and what He has done. In so doing, we are “partakers of the divine nature” (also emphatic in the Greek).

Initially, of course, at the point of salvation we are given the Holy Spirit, always present in the life of a believer. As we increase in the knowledge of Him and yield to the work of the Spirit, our nature is ever more conformed to the divine nature of Jesus Christ.

This appropriation of divine power to sample the divine nature comes to us through “exceeding great and precious promises” bestowed by His glory and virtue. Since God has promised, these promises are sure, and through them we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” JDM
Now, like John’s disciples, it surely compels us, in the very depths of our souls, to “behold the Lamb of God” and follow Him. HMM

“I and My Father Are One”

Luke 14:1-35

AT the feast of dedication the Jews asked Jesus to declare plainly whether He was the Christ. He answered in effect: “I have told you and you do not believe. My works also prove who I am, but you do not believe because you are not My sheep. My sheep know Me; to those who believe, I am precious. I give them eternal life, and no man can pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” Here is the security of the believer for all time!

Our Lord then declared, “I and My Father are one.” Modernists have toned down this claim of Christ, but it was such a tremendous statement that the Jews tried to stone Him for it. They recognized what some do not see today, that Jesus was making Himself God. Our Lord used the Scriptures to show them that even judges were called gods in the Old Testament (Ex. 22:28; Ps. 82:6) and how much more is it the right of God’s Son!

Jesus attended the house of a chief Pharisee and healed a man of dropsy (Luke 14:1-6). It was on the Sabbath, and again our Lord put human welfare above prejudices that allowed assistance to an animal on the Sabbath but complained at the healing of a man.

At this dinner there was, no doubt, the usual scramble for preferred seats, and Jesus gave them a parable about the evil of taking the higher seats only to be sent lower (Luke 14:7-11). The core of it is in the final words: “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” There is still the scramble for preferred posts, even in the churches. The worlds philosophy is “Exalt yourself,” but our business as Christians is not self-expression but Christ-expression. We must decrease that He may increase. We are but the friends of the Bridegroom, whose joy should be in hearing the Bridegrooms voice.

Our Lord went on to advise His hosts to make a supper for those who could not repay them in kind (Luke 4:12-14). We usually give to those from whom we hope to receive; but so did the Pharisees, and if your righteousness is to exceed theirs we must go the second mile and give to the unthankful or to those who cannot give in return.

He next gave the parable of the great supper with the trivial excuses of the invited. Notice, even our Lord could give no sensible excuse for not being saved, for there is none. First the rulers, then the common people, and then the Gentiles seem to be implied in the three groups (Luke 14:16-24).

Great crowds followed Jesus (Luke 14:25-35), but He laid down severe terms of absolute surrender and advised them to count the cost. Most of them were superficial disciples, for at Pentecost we find only a hundred and twenty. He wants us to know what we are doing! He will have no glib acceptance based on momentary enthusiasm. There is much salt without savor today, empty profession without the needed possession.

The Lord will destroy the house of the proud.”

Psalm 105:24-38

As our endeavour is to gather up the substance of the Scriptures during the reading of one year, we are unable to pause over each of the ten great plagues. We ought, each one of us, to read them for our own instruction. We have them for our family reading summed up in

Psalm 105:24

The Lord is just as able to increase his church at this time, and he will do so in answer to prayer.

Psalm 105:25

Persecution generally attends the prosperity of the church. Where God blesses, Satan is sure to stir up all his wrath to vex the church.

Psalm 105:26

When evil days come, the Lord has deliverers provided, who shall appear at the exact moment when they are most required. Let us pray the Lord to raise up eminent ministers and evangelists at this time, for they are greatly needed.

Psalm 105:28

This unusual darkness filled all hearts with horror, and the Egyptians were so cowed that they yielded for the time, but were hardened again when the plague was over.

Psalm 105:29-30

Fish died, but frogs lived. God can with one hand kill our comforts, and with the other multiply our miseries. This time Pharaoh himself had to endure personal annoyance, for frogs swarmed upon the royal bed.

Psalm 105:31

Here filthiness and venom were united; these little tormentors made the Egyptians feel the power of the great God. Often little plagues are the worst of plagues. From this visitation Pharaoh’s bodyguards could not defend his royal person. Such enemies laughed at sword and spear.

Psalm 105:32

It is a judgment indeed when the fountains of blessing become the channels of wrath, and the very rain is fire. Let the enemies of God beware.

Psalm 105:33

God’s blows are heavy, and they leave no place unbruised. Egypt must miss its wine and its pleasant fruits if it will not obey the Lord.

Psalm 105:34-35

Locusts literally eat up every green thing, and there is no preserving anything from them. God has many ways of punishing men. In this case we wonder at the hardness of heart of those who stood out against such humbling judgments. He who can with a word bring up countless hosts of devourers is not a God to be trifled with.

Psalm 105:36

This was the last and heaviest blow, and the proud king and nation staggered under it. When one arrow does not suffice, the Lord has others in his quiver, and one way or another he will hit the mark.

Psalm 105:37

What a miracle that after all their toil and bondage they should all be in health. They were all called to go upon a long journey, and therefore the Lord prepared them for it.

Psalm 105:38

Thus can providence so work that the stoutest opponents shall only be too glad to yield.

Let us beware of provoking this terrible God. Let us by faith enlist him upon our side: then we shall have no ground for fear, for all the creatures he has made will be our friends. Fire and water, locusts and flies, darkness and death, were all the allies of Israel. He who is at peace with God has the whole creation enlisted upon his side.

Thus shall the nations be destroy’d

That dare insult the saints;

God hath an arm t’avenge their wrongs,

An ear for their complaints.

Thine honours, O victorious king;

Thine own right hand shall raise,

While we thine awful vengeance sing,

And our Deliverer praise.

A Selfish Lust: Man’s Desire for First Place

And when the centurion… saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. Mark 15:39

The current mania of men and women to succeed in the world is a good thing perverted. The desire to fulfill the purpose for which we were created is of course a gift from God, but sin has twisted this impulse about and turned it into a selfish lust for first place and top honors. By this lust the whole world of mankind is driven as by a demon, and there is no escape.

When we come to Christ we enter a different world. The New Testament introduces us to a spiritual philosophy infinitely higher than and altogether contrary to that which motivates the world. According to the teaching of Christ the poor in spirit are blessed; the meek inherit the earth; the first are last and the last first; the greatest man is the one that best serves others and the one who loses everything is the only one that will have everything at last. The successful man of the world will see his hoarded treasures swept away by the tempest of judgment; the righteous beggar goes to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man burns in the fires of hell.

Our Lord died an apparent failure, discredited by the leaders of established religion, rejected by society and forsaken by His friends. The man who ordered Him to the cross was the successful statesman whose hand the ambitious hack politician kissed. It took the resurrection to demonstrate how gloriously Christ had triumphed and how tragically the governor had failed. The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait!